He grumbled to himself, not really happy about letting her go off exploring on her own, but silently reassuring himself that she wasn't a child. She was a full-grown adult and a capable hunter. If they were going to be partners, they were going to have to trust each other, and he wasn't going to be able to watch over her twenty-four hours a day. He bit his tongue against the caustic remark that was threatening to arise, instead focusing his attention on the little cache of crying children.
He swung his gaze back toward the goat, grimacing as he realized that before they could provide sustenance, someone had to milk the damned thing. He sighed again, wondering if they shouldn't just call the cops and be done with it. He glanced at his watch. It would be daylight soon, and he wanted to be gone from here long before that.
"Nim?" he called, realizing it was probably better just to call the cops and get the hell out of Dodge.
As promised, she hadn't gone far - just far enough to be sure that they were completely alone. This tunnel was wider, yes, but dirtier, slimier. It was obvious why the Witschatska had dug a new entryway for itself beyond the convenience. She heard Dean calling to her, stepping back into view within moments, her flashlight low at her side. "Yeah?"
It wasn't easy for him to admit that maybe he was wrong. He wasn't sure why he was delaying the inevitable. Maybe he was missing Junior more than he cared to admit, or maybe it was just hunger and exhaustion setting in. "It'll take too long to feed them all. I think maybe we should just call the cops," he admitted, turning to face her, the weariness on his face apparent, the hunt finally taking its toll.
It was a shock, to see the exhaustion suddenly written stark on his face, the transition so abrupt that she lurched toward him, an arm outstretched as though he were about to collapse right there. Dark eyes held his gaze, echoing the weariness, though she was in better shape than him. "Are you sure?" she asked him quietly, knowing he'd be hell to be around if he didn't make this decision fully for himself.
"Yeah, I'm sure. The cops will know what to do. They can take it from here. We don't need them breathing down our necks." He let her slide an arm around him. Now that the monster was dead and they'd found the missing babies, they could both relax, let the authorities do what they did best. The hunt was over for now, and the adrenaline rush was gone, leaving only exhaustion.
She was there, ready to let him lean on her as her arm curved about his back, the other hand tucking her gun away once again. "Back through the hospital?" she asked softly, her fingers tucking into her pocket to pull her phone out, coaxing it back to life in the hope of having a signal down here.
He leaned into her a little, exhaustion trumping pride. "Yeah," he replied, not really looking forward to retracing their steps through the small passageway and back through the sewers. The breeze from the opening on the other side of the cave was tempting, but he wasn't sure where they'd end up, and it was probably safer to go back the way they'd come. "I hate leaving them here, but it's probably better this way."
"The far tunnel's blocked with a grid that Witsa-whatsit could probably move easy, but no one else could," she offered by way of reassurance, turning to steer him gently back toward the narrow tunnel they had entered through. She was no happier leaving the babies herself, but they had to get them help somehow, and getting picked up by the cops was not on the to-do list for today. The crying was beginning to give her a headache, too. "Sooner we're back in the sewer, sooner we can call, and sooner the cops'll be here."
He nodded grimly in agreement. He wasn't sure why, but he didn't have his usual sense of accomplishment at a job well done that was the norm after a hunt. Maybe it was just the weariness. Maybe sleep would help. Or getting laid or fed or drunk. One of the above or all of the above? He swung a final glance at the babies, the sound of their crying starting to grate on his nerves. "Think we're doing the right thing?"
She sighed softly. "I think we're doing the only thing we can do," she admitted quietly, slipping out from under his arm to urge him into the little passageway. "They're all alive, they're all here, the thing's dead, and the cops'll block up this entrance to the hospital." And we're so dead on our feet, we're gonna do more harm than good if we don't get some sleep soon.
"We did a good job, right?" he asked, letting her take the lead, too weary to argue now that they were finished. It was a question he was always asking himself, always trying to remind himself that, despite their methods, they were the good guys. Though they might not receive any thanks, any reward, any credit, any glory, they were doing a necessary job that needed to be done. After all, someone had to do it. "You know... I once told you that no one in their right mind chooses this life, but... that was a lie."
"We did a good job." She wasn't sure about that, but he needed to hear it. Slipping into the passage, she pulled him after her, taking her time to make sure she didn't end up scraping him along the walls behind her. There was a sense of something at the edge of her weary perception, of eyes on them that were more approving than hostile, though no more welcome for that sense. Dean's voice cut through her contemplation of that, her flashlight snapping on as she blinked back to the immediacy of their reality in those minutes. "Yeah?" she asked softly, glancing back to make sure he was okay as she came out into the sewer.
He scraped through the passage behind her, the sound of the crying growing fainter as they got farther away. For some reason, that bothered him, almost feeling as if they were abandoning those in need, though he knew they were doing the right thing. He'd made sure of it before they left, make sure the cops listened to their story and arrived to find the babies and rescue them. The scrapes and cuts encountered in the passageway were nothing, numbness settling in, the adrenalin worn off.
"Yeah..." he replied as he followed her out to emerge into the sewer, pausing a moment to catch his breath, as fetid as the air was in there. "I chose this life. I could have had normal, but... The truth is I'll never be happy with normal. I'm a hunter. It's all I am, it's all I'll ever be." He wasn't sure why he was telling her that. A warning maybe? Don't try to change me. This is who I am.
How could she convince him that she already knew that? There was nothing else in this world or any other that Dean could possibly be. He hadn't been born to hunting, but he'd taken to it as though it were what he had been born to, as though it had always been his destiny. That urge, that drive to protect complete strangers from the horrors they couldn't even imagine ... it was a part of him, and Nim couldn't imagine ever wanting that to change. Yes, he was going to infuriate her; they were going to annoy each other. But she wouldn't be here with him if she didn't know that feeling almost as well as he did.
Her hand fell to squeeze his for a moment, her dark eyes flickering over the little injuries that littered him, making a note to make sure he was clean and bandaged before she went to sleep. "I could have had normal, too," she reminded him quietly. "It's not what we are. But you're way more than just a hunter, Dean."
Giving him a gentle tug, she pressed the flashlight into his hand, tucking herself under his arm again as her eyes turned down to the phone in her hand, dialing the emergency line. She'd have to dump the SIM card immediately after, but that was an easy sacrifice; she had about a dozen spares in the Impala.
He squeezed her hand back, drawing comfort from that simple reassuring gesture. There were some many things she didn't know that he wanted her to know. He knew it wasn't perfect; he knew there were going to be bumps in the road, but no relationship was perfect, and wasn't learning to know and love each other what life was all about? At that moment, he wanted to open his heart to her, to tell her everything that was right there on the tip of his tongue, hinted at in his gaze, tucked safely away in his heart, but he didn't. It could wait a little bit longer.
Instead, he only leaned forward to brush a gentle, protective kiss against the top of her head, careful of the gash he'd awkwardly glued together only hours before. "Let's get out of here," he said, finally ready to put this chapter behind them and move forward.
She smiled faintly, falling into step with him through the fetid stink of the sewer. In less than an hour, these tunnels would be filled with policemen. Six newborn baby boys would be reunited with their heartbroken parents. And two very tired hunters would be settled in a new motel room, passed out on the first bed that came to hand. It might have been a textbook hunt; they might still have a lot to learn, not least about each other. But all in all ... it had been a good hunt.
[size=9]((Our heroes have saved the day! Took long enough, right? ::grins:: As always, thanks to Dean's player. Awesome hunt!))[/size]